Across ethnic barriers…

Meet Thabiti Anyabwile… the newest of the pastors and theologians I have begun to read and listen to his stuff. An excerpt from his blog. Love  his stuff. Muslim background Christian pastor serving in a church in the Grand Cayman islands. 
” I want to cooperate with men who don’t blink when they hear the Savior put such trust in God’s word, because taking their cue from the Savior they too put their trust in the Bible.
The Utter Urgency, Beauty, and Priority of Thinking, Feeling, and Living as One New Humanity or Spiritual Ethnicity in Christ.
To put it plainly, I want to labor, strive, build, risk, sacrifice, rejoice, mourn, and serve with those Christians who put our identity in Christ before any lesser identity.  All other identities–which we surely, necessarily, and joyfully embrace–are still lesser identities when compared with that new personhood we receive from and in the Savior.  Doctor?  Lesser.  Preacher?  Lesser.  Rich or poor?  Lesser.  Immigrant or national?  Lesser.  This natural ethnic group or that?  Important.  Intentional.  Beautiful.  Lesser.
I want to live and labor with those who know, count, and embrace the cost of living out this radical new existence, where “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28).  But I want to also labor with those who feel, embrace and rejoice in the beauty and intentionality of the vision in Rev. 5:9-10–”You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.  You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”  Neither Jew nor Greek… one in Christ Jesus… and yet every tribe and language and people and nation in praise to God… a kingdom of priests serving God.  Forgetting ourselves while being ourselves while consumed with Jesus.  ”For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in His flesh the law with its commandments and the regulations.  His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which He put to death the hostility” (Eph. 2:14-16).  Oh to live and work with saints who know that Jesus has “put to death the hostility”that is, the hatin’, the cliques, the prejudice, the bigotry, the pride, the racism, the ethnocentrism, the racial supremacy, the cultural imperialism, the chauvinism, the snobbery, the indifference, the know-nothingness, the blinders, the victimology, the guilt trippin’, the resentment, the disenfranchisement, the oppression, the power playing, the privilege-protecting, the race-carding, the white flight, the angry Black, the gentrification, the red-lining, the segregation, the ghetto-ization, the marginalization, the balkanization, and so on!
I want to cooperate with men and women who take seriously the burden-sharing, burden-carrying call of Galatians 6:1-2.  I especially want to cooperate with men and women who do that on the issue of our new identity in Christ because the reality is there’s a cost to African Americans who feel like they’re giving up who they are without reciprocity and acceptance in order to be who Christ calls us to be.  Simultaneously, the reality is there’s a cost to White Americans who feel like they’re risking blame, castigation, rejection, and privilege without the chance of acceptance in order to be who Christ calls them to be.  I want to be with White brethren who carry my burden with me.  And I want to carry the burdens of my White, Hispanic, Asian, African, Caribbean, Indian, and European brethren who shoulder their own burdens in all of this.  And I don’t want to hang with anyone–Black, White, or other–who pretend that either there are no costs or that they’re the only ones paying it.  I want to cooperate with those who believe we either hang together or we shall surely hangtogether.”

#4 Laughter

Laughter is awesome. I mean hands down who doesn’t love laughing? I like smiling. I like GRINNING! I like giggling. And I love laughing til your sides ache and you’re about to fall off your chair or wet yourself or just be in pain from uncontrollable laughter. There is nothing like it. 

Laughing is important to health, important to friendships, important to sanity and one lesson in laughter is.. it is good to learn to laugh at yourself. Me learning to laugh at myself has been a good life lesson.

And if I can.. laugh every day. 🙂

Especially with good friends. 

Hannah is one of my favourite people to laugh with. She has an amazing laugh. 

Ending up somewhere on a dog-pile is also a reason to laugh a lot. 

#3 Grace
                  Grace changes everything. 

My whole life has been a long lesson in learning grace. It is one of the biggest lessons I’ve ever learnt and it is one of the slowest coming and one I think I will continue to learn the rest of my life.

Grace is one of my favourite words in the world. It is the concept that turns history upside down. It changes everything and if the world would awaken to grace, everything would be different. CS Lewis said once in a meeting that it was the one thing that made Christianity distinct. The other world religious leaders agreed with him.

Our world is based on merit. You do this you get that. Whether it is good merit: I work hard, and get a college degree. Or sadly, revenge merit…. you shoot my cousin, I get even with you by shooting one of yours.

Grace is the opposite of merit. It gives good things, great things to those who don’t deserve it. It doesn’t just let you off and give you mercy, it gives you over and beyond and gives you freedom and restoration. It is extravagant. It is foolish. It It is a gift from God. And because deep down. All of us.. feel that sinking sense of guilt.
                   When no one’s looking.
                                           When we are alone in our beds.
                                                                When the room is noisy with people and yet our insides feel hollow
             and silent
                          and empty. Grace is what our souls hunger for.

In a world where we compare ourselves with everyone else.. grace is offensive to our sense of self- deserving and pride and self esteem. It is against everything having to do with self in fact. I have found grace a hard lesson to learn. Hard to receive from others and hard to receive from God. Because you can’t do anything to earn grace. The word earn and grace can’t even go in the same sentence. And that is incredibly frustrating to self sufficient people. I might be one of them. But slowly God has been whittling away at my sense of self accomplishment and how I compare myself to others and what I think people deserve and I deserve. And the more I learn the way of grace.. the more freeing I have found life to become.

I have learnt grace over and over again.. from the biggest sign of it.. when Jesus died to forgive sinners like me a lesson that I have learnt over and over again since I was a child.
But one of the most profound for me was on a fraternity house floor years ago.  The Lord taught me grace. In a wild party with a crying girl on my lap with such a different background then me, I sat there holding her in her tears and the Lord spoke to me that we were the same. Because grace plains people. It tables us. There are no hierarchies. There are no.. I am better than so and so. When grace hits you… you realize you have nothing better to offer. That you are the same as everyone else. That your brownie points don’t count. There’s a lot more to that story, you can ask me about it if you want. I learnt grace that day. Just like I have been constantly learning from the Lord over and over since.

Grace plains us. It stops our comparisons. It says the “worst” of us are no better than the “best” of us and that all of us are pitiful sinners next to a holy God. But that there is hope….

“I am far worse than I can possibly imagine and simultaneously more loved by God than I ever dared hope” – Tim Keller

And today and tomorrow.. I hope to continue to learn how I stand in grace – unmerited favour and freedom because of Jesus and how to give grace to others in words, in actions, in even how I think about them and me. It is the most profoundly perplexing of all of my life lessons… and most beautiful.

The Civil Wars – Poison & Wine

There is nothing on earth like a well crafted song. And when it’s hit.. musically, lyrically… emotionally… you just know. This is one of those songs in my book. I’ve loved this band since they first hit the scene and drove an insane amount in an evening to catch a live gig of them back in the UK. I look forward to the next time I see them in my city in November. This is the kind of songwriter I hope to someday be. Honest. Raw. Beautiful.

#2 Love people

I had a friend at university who I’ve since mostly lost touch with except for the random facebook link and maybe swapping an email once every year or two. But at uni he was a bit of a big brother figure to me. And as he was about to graduate, on one of the last nights I saw him, he pulled up my little sophomore self and said “Christy, love people.”

And that sounded like good advice.

And so I did.

#1 Jesus  

The best thing in life to happen to me was to get to know Jesus Christ.

The most important thing anyone should know about my life is Jesus.

Someday I will die and will be forgotten and the name you should remember is Jesus not mine.

Jesus matters more than you know right now. I hope everyone of you will get to know him for yourself. Some of you think you know Jesus and you need to erase the Jesus of your imaginations and get to know him as He really is. I’m from middle America. I know. There are a lot of bad ideas about Jesus that aren’t true. The “self help Jesus,” the “Jesus is some dead guy from history,” the “Jesus is here to fix all my personal problems but not require my very life to be his” the “Jesus is less than God.” All of those have to go.

While others of you don’t have the imaginary Jesus problem but think I have the imaginary friend problem, I’d like to encourage you… Ask God to show himself to you. Consider it. I encourage you as well to get to know Jesus: the self existent one, the God who is, the one who created everything.. the one who loves you more than you you know.

I was introduced to Jesus at a young age and became a Christian.. or a follower of Jesus when I was about 5. All I knew was Jesus was real. He loved me and I wanted to go live with him someday and he died for me and rose from death to make that possible. My mommy explained sin to me and why Jesus had to die. As a very little girl I didn’t know much but I knew I wanted my life to belong to Jesus.

And then the rest of my life happened.

And the rest of the story has been learning what all that means and really getting to know Jesus better. It’s been a bumpy road but he has been the best part.

Now I can think of some of my readers (yeah actually not just the random ones reading from middle of nowhere America or Russia or Germany that I see follow me regularly in silence – say hellloooo introduce yourself.. ahem! But rather people I actually know, friends, who’s names just popped into my head who are rolling their eyes at my insanity and we are only on point #1 of my life lessons.

I have 29 blogs to go of the most important things I have learnt in life. But Jesus is more than a life lesson. He is wonderful. He is real. He is precious. And he matters to every one of you even if you think I am a nutjob right now. All of my life lessons, whether they seem “spiritual” or “unspiritual” are inextricably linked to him. My prayer for you as you wander through my head in these readings, laugh with me, laugh at me, wince with me, in all the things I’ve learnt.. is that you will consider Jesus and what he has to do with you.

Jesus Christ crucified, died, buried, risen, and reigning and glorified is the best thing in life and eternity.